Plum Compote: Life Without A Plan


Plum compote

“Do you haven an editorial plan for your blog?” – asked me an internet-savvy friend. Hm.. at any point of time I have a 3-4 ideas on the forthcoming posts and 3-4 more ideas on what I can write about if I stumble. I try to post twice a week but then what can I do if I am escaping Istanbul heat in our countryside house and the nearby construction guys cut the telephone line for the whole area and we go without internet for 5 days? So much for the editorial plan.

Having said that I confess that my tendency for making comprehensive plans was once proliferating. You have to see my agenda notebook 10 years back: all sides of life converted into multilevel plans, then translated into color coded action items and evenly spread out on my weeks like that thick rose-hip marmalade on a huge piece of Trabzon ekmek.

No wonder I became a strategy consultant. On the first assignment my project manager created a 300 something-item action plan as a part of the client deliverable. Think of the role-model!

Best of all was when we worked in Ukraine at the regional development project. Because the potential scope was huge we narrowed down the area to a few key areas in which, based on a hundreds of conversations and thorough analysis, we created plans. Actionable plans.

Characteristically we’d recommend the regional authorities to attract foreign direct investments. Just to make the recommendation more specific and achievable we would break it down: identify key areas of investment, identify key target investors, create promotional materials for the target investors etc. And so on and so forth and days of internal team discussions and months of trying to convince the regional authorities that this is exactly what they should do – this was my life only 3 years ago.

This is when I got to understand that making plan is a useless exercise in a couple of cases:

  • if the people who are supposed to implement it do not buy in,
  • if you don’t have authority to enforce it, or
  • if you are not on good terms with the political will that determines the rules of the game.

Thanks, God I knew that when the Istanbul countryside house became my second home. I found myself around so many people including family members and our helpers – each with their own agenda. With lots of plans and very little authority aggravated by the only emerging Turkish fluency I soon found out that it is next to impossible for me to put any plan into action. Unless I get a buy-in from my husband and he would assume a hassle of discussing that with 3-4 people before I can finally do it. In time with more authority and specifically at the kitchen I can shake and move on a larger scale but still if not to the negotiation skills of my husband I would be pretty helpless in getting things done here.

Anyway things happen irrespective to a plan. As I am sitting in our room and writing this post my husband and father-in-law decide to continue their repair project in the adjacent room. As we start discussing something important with my husband a customer calls. As I make myself coffee after a few hours at the kitchen my mother-in-law arrives to kick-off preparation. As we are planning to go to the Black Sea side the sky gets cloudy after weeks of sunshine.

Instead of freaking out I started following no-plan approach. This is how I can fit into the life at our countryside house. There is no plan here anyways, only routines: like our own mealtimes, like shopping from the big farmers market in Friday, like preparing big breakfast buffet on weekends. The rest depends on the clients, their bookings, public holidays, weather and what not. On how my mother-in-law feels: if she feels strong enough after the surgery we will get up to cook 10 (!) dishes like she did this Monday and then 3 more to host a charity iftar for our neighbors like she did on Tuesday. And so the life here will be spinning fueled by her energy.

No-plan approach means going with the flow sometimes. When things are not so critical. And with the big, really critical things I started to think about my life in terms of milestones – important events that will take place without a certain time span. Launching my culinary program at the countryside, giving birth, building our own house are a few examples of such milestones. Each of this milestones requires certain actions to be taken. But instead of writing a detailed action plan I let thing fall in place and take action when needed. Like the topics for my blog post laying out.

And then besides the milestones there are certain things you commit to: they are important things in your life you want to maintain. Like I have committed to help as much as I can at he kitchen when I am in Sapanca. After going to Russian this summer I want to make sure we see my parents at least 4 times a year – with us going there and them visiting here. Kind of like my posting schedule. Which I am planning hoping to stick to.

Print Recipe

Plum Compote (Erik Composto)

Little thinner than your typical compote this refreshing traditional Turkish beverage – tart and fruity – is a great ending of a summer meal or an afternoon refreshment

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time:
20 Min

Total Time:
30 Min

Serves: 10


  • 1.5 kg/3.3 pounds plums washed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1.5 cup sugar and more if you like it sweet
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 dried cloves


  1. Prepare the plums: With a sharp knife make a cut to open up a plum, extract the stone and transfer the pitted plum into a large cooking pot. When I am through with the plums I take stones and squeeze any plum flash remaining on them into the pot.
  2. Make the plum compote: Add sugar, water and spices to the pitted plums – the mixture will look so unappealing at this point but don’t despair. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes until the compote turns into deep ruby color.
  3. Let the flavor develop: You can simply cool it down yet I like letting it stand for an hour or so for the flavor to deepen – definitely do it of you have time. Then cool, discard cinnamon sticks and dried cloth and refrigerate. Serve chilled.
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • George Bazhenov September 8, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Speaking of editorial plans for your blog, this entry was the last to appear in the RSS feed feed:// and I am not a happy reader now because I do not get my regular updates. Is it part of the plan or is just me? Or is it a glitch in the depths of the Internet?

    Thank you for your blog, by the way.

    • Olga Tikhonova September 8, 2012, 8:21 pm

      Oh, there has been many news since then! Ironic it happened after that post isn’t it?! Thank for reporting the bug, George! Have found a way to fix it so I hope the updates will be in your inbox on time now. Thank you for following and letting me know!

  • George Bazhenov September 8, 2012, 8:36 pm

    Great, the new updates are now in my inbox, as snug as a bug. That was quick!


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